ALTX East Africa, a securities exchange platform with operations in Uganda has unveiled a new platform – Zaabu – which it says is the first East African USSD-based trading platform.
The platform will offer individuals the ability to register and invest in financial products without needing to be connected to the internet or the need to travel.
Zaabu, according the ALTX, will also offer individuals an opportunity to become active participants of the securities market and respond directly to the challenge of access to the internet as a barrier to securities investment in the country. It will be supported by the MTN network as an innovative platform enabling investors to access the ALTX securities trading environment.
The innovation is built on USSD technology and MTN Mobile Money is meant to give everybody with an MTN SIM card access to the opportunity to become a securities investor on ALTX.
Mr Joseph Kitamirike, the ALTX chief executive, while launching the platform, said majority of investors on ALTX have no previous experience in investing in the securities market and Zaabu intends to broaden this access in a partnership with MTN, whose millions of subscribers will be able to trade on the securities market. “In Uganda, we are told there are more than 25 million people with a phone. If you could stop for a minute and estimate the number of people with a mobile phone in Mitooma [District], all of them now have the opportunity to participate in the securities market,” Mr Kitamirike said.
ALTX currently offers Uganda and Kenya government bonds as well as the Tolea Exchange Traded Fund, which returned 20 percent in its first year on the market.
Mr Thomas Tayebwa, the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, who also attended the launch, said Zaabu could be an accelerator of financial inclusion and economic growth in the country by addressing the barriers of cost and time. “It could be a vehicle for the financial freedom of millions of Ugandans in the country by bringing investment opportunities closer than ever before,” he said.
ALTX launched the commercial operations of its exchange in October 2016 and has grown its market capitalization from Shs19m at the end of 2016 to more than Shs33b today.
On the other hand, Mr Kitamirike said, the custody business has grown in volume from Shs20b in 2019 to Shs445b in 2021, which presents a lot of investment opportunities across the country.